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A Place to Belong

EJCHS’ Sarah Giddens’ take on student involvement

The junior’s motive to help other students find a place to belong comes from her personal experience of student involvement.


East Jackson High School’s Sarah Giddens knew from a young age that she wanted to be involved with as much as she could. Having experiences that she wouldn't have had without clubs and sports has impacted her career as a student. Now she’s using her experiences to help others get involved.


Giddens is involved with the Beta Club, Governor Honors Program, Student Advisory Team and The Jackson County Student Leadership Team (JSLT). These positions allow her to play her part in giving back to her school. She has a heart and drive to make a difference and she plans to do just that by participating in everything she can.


“Students shouldn't have to go home and do nothing when there's a place for them. I feel like having a club, sport or any sort of extracurricular activity is the best way to make friends and have a good environment to be in,” Giddens said. 


Giddens highlights the importance of participation and finding a place to belong. She encourages her classmates to get out of their comfort zones and to find a place that best suits them. She is there to help them too. Each month, Giddens personally requests for an updated list of all the current activities going on within the school, in order to inform other students of all things they can be part of within their own school. 


“I just want my classmates to know that there is so much offered here at East Jackson and there’s no reason they should feel like they do not belong somewhere,” Giddens said.


Giddens is also the student ambassador for the Literacy Task Force, where she helps distribute items to different schools within Jackson County. Recently she was given the opportunity to help put up the new ‘Little Free Library Boxes’ at various schools. 


Giving back to the community is how she enjoys spending her free time. She has a heart of gold and truly cares about the well being of others. 


With her experience in the school’s Beta Club, Giddens gets moments to volunteer and find ways to help her community. As the Vice President of the club, she takes pride in the work they do. 


“Sarah Kate has been part of our EJ Beta Leadership Team for two years and will serve as our President next year. She is passionate about helping others and finds unique and creative ways to do so,” said Club Executive Sponsor Linda Frederick. “Sarah Kate leads the way in Marketing and Communications challenges at the State Convention and is a great role model and support to other Beta members.” 


The Beta Club recently participated in the leadership summit where they proposed a plan to build and install a butterfly garden on campus. That earned the team a place in next year's National Beta Convention. 


Giddens explained how she was proud of her team and what a great experience it was; being part of a team means connecting with others to Giddens. By having these different groups and teams, she is able to maximize positive relationships with others.


The Beta Club is one of the ways Sarah finds herself feeling most comfortable and confident. Her current position as Vice President has helped her to develop her communication skills. She intends to utilize those skills after graduation. 


“When you are involved, school feels less like a requirement and more like an opportunity,” Giddens said. “School should feel like a place for everyone.”


Not only does student engagement place Giddens and her fellow students inside the community, but it also allows for growth in many ways. For Giddens, she credits her confidence and talents to her coaches and teachers who helped her in all her extracurriculars. 


Giddens is the oldest member on the Eagles’ cheerleading team this year, and she guides the younger athletes in an impactful direction. She takes her leadership role on the team very seriously.


Consistency, Confidence, Commitment and Family is the motto for the cheerleading team and Sarah proudly leads her teams chant after each practice. Her team voted her to receive the CCCF Award at their cheer banquet on December 11th. 


“Sarah Kate is a great leader to the competition cheer team. She uplifts all her teammates and helps them to be successful,” said head coach Michaela Wilson. “She wants the best not only for herself, but for her teammates as well. She is constantly cheering others on and wants them to succeed.


“Sarah Kate encourages and motivates her teammates to be their very best and pushes them to succeed.She always has a smile on her face and brightens up every room she walks in.” 


As Giddens continues to represent the East-side, she hopes that she can continue to lead her team and show others that school can be fun and there is so much more than meets the eye. 


Cheerleading is one of many ways Giddens finds herself growing and having somewhere to belong. Being an athlete, she tries to stay busy during the off season; she plays other sports like tennis and dance.


Sarah serves as an encouragement to everyone who meets her. Her drive and school spirit goes beyond the school. Local libraries, like Maysville and Commerce, are familiar with the junior. 


“Sarah-Kate Giddens is the epitome of what all principals would like to see out of their students,” said Principal Dr. Matt Stratemeyer. “First and foremost, she takes care of her business in the classroom. Sarah maintains a 4.0 GPA while taking a rigorous course load each year. Additionally, she serves as an influential student leader.


“As a member of the Jackson Student Leadership Team, Sarah works with her peers to apply her leadership skills to the school as a whole. She and her teammates are currently working on ideas to facilitate the continuous improvement of the school culture at EJCHS. In addition to her other contributions, Sarah is a key member of the state qualifying competition cheer squad. It has been a pleasure to get to know Sarah this year and I look forward to seeing her continued impact for the next year and a half.”